South Dakota State Dominates the Pioneers, 83-73, to End Season

Photo Courtesy of thesummitleague.org. South Dakota State University’s Mike Daum owned the night.

For the first two-thirds of the first half, South Dakota State University (16-16) had their way with the Pioneers. At one point, the Jackrabbits canned 9-13 shots, seemingly hitting every shot they threw at the bucket. Denver (16-14) was missing their shots, couldn’t buy a rebound and looked totally out of sync. South Dakota’s duo of Mike Daum with 21 points and Reed Tellinghuisen with 11 points had their way with a plodding Denver defense. SDSU isolated all-everything Mike Daum on DU defenders and he continuously beat Denver from every place on the floor. The Pioneers had no answer. Daniel Amigo went 1-7 from the floor and picked up three fouls in the half trying to stop the offensive assault from #24.  The Jacks lead ballooned to 17 points – but it looked and felt worse.

In the final 8 minutes of the first half, the Pioneers responded behind C.J. Bobbitt’s 16 points. Almost single-handedly, C.J. Bobbitt showed enough fight to keep Denver within shouting distance. With only 4 points each from the other top Denver scoring threats of Joe Rosga and Jake Krafka, the Pioneers somehow closed the gap to 43-36 at half – with Denver tailing by only 7 points. The Jackrabbits had 5 extra rebounds and outshot the ‘visitors’ 43% to 50% for the half. (Estimates had South Dakota State fans at 9,000 strong for the game).

The second half was no better.

The Pioneers started the second half cold and fell behind by 13 points in the first minute and a half and the Jacks drew a third foul on C.J. Bobbitt. By 15:28, the Jacks ran out to a 20 point lead, 61-41, as the wheels fell off the Denver defense – allowing open 3-point shots and layups on the defensive end while rushing shots on their own offensive end. At 14:09, Daniel Amigo picked up his 4th foul. An Ade Murkey three-point bucket capped a good Denver run as they closed the deficit to 66-53 at 10:34- but that was as good as it would get for Denver. Mike Daum fouled out Daniel Amigo at 6:39 and the Jackrabbit lead blew up to 20 points again, 75-55.

SDSU gave Mike Daum some rest during the final ten minutes to prepare for the next round of the tournament as he ended with 33 points in 29 minutes. While Denver was able to whittle away at the deficit again, the Pioneers never threatened the Jacks who seemed to be enjoying every minute of their romp. The game ended 83-73 in junk time as Denver scored some easy buckets in the final minutes to narrow the score as the clock mercifully hit 0:0.

But the game was never in doubt.

Bobbitt was scoreless in the second half and Joe Rosga and Ade Murkey had 10 points each. South Dakota shot 50% to Denver’s 44.1% and out rebounded the Pioneers by 5 boards. Daniel Amigo had, perhaps, his worst game of the season on 3-13 shooting, 3 rebounds, and 5 fouls in only 23 minutes. No doubt, Mike Daum had a  lot to do with his performance. Joe Rosga was cold, too, hitting only 4 of 10 from the field.

It was just disappointing to see such a lopsided loss when Denver hoops has seemed to have so many of these types of efforts over the years. Denver fans were left wanting more.

My two takeaways from today’s contest:

-Denver is likely to get two more years playing against Mike Daum. The DU coaching staff needs to figure out how to play him better defensively. While Daniel Amigo had a breakout year, Denver must match up better against #24 or just accept the fact that the next two years will finish the exact same way as this season.

-Denver will always be at a distinct disadvantage at the Summit League Conference Championships in Sioux Falls, S.D.. In the future, DU can’t be equal to the best team(s) – they have to be better to win a championship. That means DU’s returning core needs to improve, Denver gets major help from their two new incoming Freshmen (Elijah Blake and Elvin Rodriguez), and, somehow, Denver needs to get stronger, deeper, and tougher upfront – especially on defense.

All that being said, the Pioneers finished with a winning record of 16-14 and .500 in the Summit League regular season (8-8). Denver has a rock solid coaching staff and all the starters are returning next season.

19 thoughts on “South Dakota State Dominates the Pioneers, 83-73, to End Season”

  1. In tourney play, your best players need to step up and be your best players when it matters most. SDSU had that tonight in spades with Rob Daum and Reed Tellinghuisen, who put up about 50 points between them and were firing from the opening tip. Daum put up a record-setting performance (33 points), and DU really had no answer for him (he’s torched the whole league all season, so no shame in that). Amigo was simply overmatched and outclassed by Daum in the paint, and Rosga seemed a bit out of control trying to force penetration, which is not his natural strong suit (he’s more of a natural two-guard than a true point guard) which could change next year if Elvin Rodriguez is as good as advertised at the point.

    DU faded at the end of the year because everyone else figured out how to guard them as the season went on, whereas DU was unable to increase it’s defensive effectiveness. That has to be first on Rodney’s summer to-do list. With all his major players returning, DU should be an upper half team next year, and should challenge for hardware and an NCAA berth.

    I am so pleased with the 16-14 finish, which was better than anyone predicted. Amigo became an all-conference level player, Bobbitt, Mackey and Murkey became steady and reliable in their roles, Rosga helped to lead the group, and Pemberton and Thomas Neff took big steps forward as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Frustrating end to the season. Not a good stretch at all as DU found every which way to lose. Pios once again need bigger post players to compete in the Summit. As we’ve seen with a team like Omaha, athleticism alone won’t cut it (of which the Pios also need an infusion), there has to be a legit power forward rotation. Bobbitt and Krafka are small forwards. As Puck said, Rosga is really a 2 guard. Pemberton and Neff are role players at best.
    I want to see Murkey develop an outside shot to complement his dribble drive. If he can, he will be dominant. I’m excited to see Elvin Rodriguez.
    Over all, it was a solid year. However, youth is not an excuse. The core of this team all had significant playing time last year. Look at SDSU, Daum is a soph and Tellinghuisen a junior, same as our core. It has nothing to do with that and everything to do with execution. After awhile you are what you are: if you win 16 games back to back, with experience maybe you win 18-19 next year, but there’s nothing in the consistency of play to suggest this team will break out and win say, 22-24. Rodney will only go so far with the horses he has. The current stable won’t cut it and he knows it.

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  3. Overall the season exceeded my expectations. Tonight, however, was more of the same tournament monkey on DU’s back. Most our players looked flustered and never let themselves play. Lots of bad turnovers, dumb fouls, poor shot selection and shooting in general that was not typical of most regular season games. Hopefully next year the team freaking relaxes and just goes out and competes. I didn’t expect DU to win tonight but man they certainly didn’t help themselves make it close. The exception in my mind was Bobbitt who looked comfortable and actually looked like he wanted the pressure. That’s apparently who needs to help set the tone for the other guys over the next few years so when tournament pressure comes around they don’t go blank. I don’t particularly mind that we don’t win the conference, but losing this way every year since I can remember has got to change or the program will never break through. Here’s hoping Billups can finally change the mindset of the program in big moments.

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  4. Well, that sucked. South Dakota State is hot right now and I expect them to win this tournament, but I would have liked to see a better fight than that. Having Daum around for two more years is not a pleasant thought…

    Overall I think it was a successful season, the beginning and end were bumpy, but there was a lot of good stuff in between. I am confident In Billups’ ability to keep the momentum going next year and to recruit to a level that can soon bring the Pios a league title. I think eventually we’ll all look back on this season as the beginning of something great for Denver basketball, I’m really excited for the future.

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  5. Great comments. Rodney needs to find a 6-8 or a 6-9 guy (or two) who can jump and finish around the net. I know Rodney may prefer not to take transfers or Juco guys, but an experienced guy at that size could really be the missing piece of the DU personnel puzzle next year…

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  6. I believe I’m correct in 16 wins last year, 16 wins this year. Where’s the improvement as a team? Same end result in the conference.

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    1. DU finished 16-14, 8-8. Last year they were .500. I think most people saw the improvement in the style of play versus the Princeton system. I, personally, liked both. Time will tell – Billups and his staff need several more years of recruiting to determine how much improvement was really made.

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  7. I said wins, not percentage.

    2015-2016 Men’s Basketball Schedule
    Overall
    16-15 Conf.
    7-9 Home
    8-7 Away
    6-6 Neutral
    2-2

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  8. Anytime there is a new coach, you have to give him at least 4-5 years to get his own recruited players in his system to see what kind of improvement has been realized. No coach should be judged on improvements in his first season, especially when he is changing the whole system of play to a fast-paced, up-tempo system when almost all the current DU players were recruited by a different coach to play a slow, Princeton system. It’s a really remarkable achievement that this DU team won 16 games this year under that rebuild scenario.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m just a single fan, but the numbers aside, I’m excited again to watch DU basketball. I haven’t felt that way in years. I believe Billups has this team moving in the right direction, playing an up tempo and entertaining brand of basketball. Are there things to work on this offseason? Absolutely. Room for improvement in several areas? You bet. Some frustrations around consistency? Sure. But the bottom line for me is I’m looking to seeing this team in year 2 under Billups and I hope to attend the majority of the home contests.

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  10. Who you guys got tomorrow? It’s hard to bet against SDSU, but Omaha looked very strong tonight against IUPUI. Personally I’m going with SDSU.

    Which brings up an interesting point… SDSU has a pretty bad RPI and a lot of losses, would they get slotted as a 16 instead of a 15? What if they were to face a 1 seed like Villanova, who doesn’t have a strong big man? Would be very interesting to see what Daum could do in that situation…

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    1. My brain says SDSU but my heart says Omaha. I think 16 for either one. Mid-majors have struggled this year. Daum is the real deal from the outside and the inside.

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  11. Rooting for Omaha as I like to see teams go dancing who have never been before (but boy that wouldn’t feel good to see Omaha go before us). However I think SDSU has a better chance of an upset in the tourney, albeit still slim.

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    1. Same with me…rooting for the Mavs. As always, stopping Daum is the key. The big guy is also playing his third game in three days (as is everyone else). Omaha quickness could cause some problems and SDSU had to play deep into the game last night.

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  12. SDSU won the Summit tournament again this year, this time by a point over Omaha, and were the best team when it counted. They have the best player in the league by a large margin, and playing every year in the tournament with 10,000 of their fans only one hour from their campus is a HUGE home court advantage, I wonder how well the Jacks would do if they had to play Summit tourney games in Denver or Omaha or Peoria or Indianapolis every year.

    That said, Sioux Falls sells more tickets than anywhere else in the league, and they are a great host, but at the end of the day, the Summit Tourney is just a larger Jacks’ home game, as the Jacks have won four of the last six tournaments, with NDSU winning the other two.

    For DU to win there, the Pios would need to be magnificent.

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    1. Watched the game. SDSU wanted a half court game and the Mavs wanted to run. Looked like Omaha had the game in hand but Daum and some role players stepped up. Omaha gave them everything they could take. I agree with you, nearly unbeatable there – especially with Daum.

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    2. It makes business sense to hold the tourney in Sioux Falls. That was a great atmosphere, so what if it’s dominated by a few fanbases. The tournament continues to grow and garner national press and acclaim as the model for a mid-major conference tournament. Its proximity to the Dakota schools and Omaha, make it a central locale.
      With North Dakota set to join in two years, you have access to the 4 major state schools, the flagships, of the Dakotas. The Dakota 4 are the only game in town for the two states, with sizable and loyal alumni bases versus the commuter and directional state schools and smaller privates that make up not only the Summit, but most mid-major conferences. We are actually fortunate to have the Dakota 4 as a strong institutional base for the league. Omaha can also be a player as their programs improve guided by Trev Alberts, and their turnout last night wasn’t paltry, just overshadowed.
      As for DU, we’re competitive, but we have yet to have a team that can take down anybody on a consistent basis, anywhere, anytime. That is the mark of a great team. We’re not there yet. But we can be and as Puck said, it will take a magnificent performance to win the tournament, but when the time comes, we’ll all know when said team is ready. Just look at any of other nationally successful DU programs and the confidence Pio fans have going into those matchups, regardless of venue. We don’t even have to be great nationally, just great within our league.

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